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So I went through an initial interview on school campus, and an on-site interview(one day, mostly technical interviews) with this company, and then a week later, I am told that there will be an additional phone interview with one of their hiring managers, called "Professional Fit Interview", which I have no idea what it is. Before I thought the on-site interview was gonna be the last round, at least that's the impression I got from them.

So what this "professional fit interview" might be? How should I prepare for it?

Thanks a lot!

A follow-up: Thank everyone for the replies. As everybody has mentioned, it's a HR type interview. The interviewer did some introduction of the team, then asked if I have some questions, and asked me a couple of questions like "where do you see yourself in 2 years". Anyway, a rejection email came about one week later.

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Sounds like HR drivel that you probably can't really prepare for. –  John Straka Dec 2 '10 at 20:02
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For interviews like this, it's a legally clever way to exclude people based on things like age, ethnicity, gender and so forth (which are illegal in the US) as well as things that are legal to exclude people for such as personal appearance and grooming, weight and so forth. –  jfrankcarr Dec 20 '11 at 15:15
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5 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Typically, a cultural fit assessment is something to gauge your personality (and how it'll mesh with the existing employees there). Given that your day of interviews was mostly technical, it's possible that this is what they were referring to.

Just try not to be too much of a richard and you'll be fine. It's typically HR equidae-feces and tea-leaves; you really can't study for it short of reading up on Myer-Briggs and playing the meta-answer game.

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Perhaps could be phrased more diplomatically but +1 anyway –  HLGEM Dec 2 '10 at 20:06
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Good answer...but I like Tim's response better. The last time I went through a HR interview like that I was told that I 'would not fit into their corporate culture' and 'would not be a good employee'. I'm very glad I was passed over, since the opinion of the just-out-of-college HR drone overruled three developers, two managers, and the VP of IT! –  Steven A. Lowe Dec 2 '10 at 21:03
    
@Steven that the HR rep may have been naive is also shown by the fact that he even told you those things! I'm usually fine with candidness but only if you are 100% sure it will be constructive. –  NickC Dec 2 '10 at 21:12
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Tend to agree. Cultural fit is a big hiring criteria for any role, but I deal with it as a part of other interviews because it has to be more than one person's opinion. And doing over the phone is a red flag. –  Rhys Gibson Dec 2 '10 at 23:26
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I learned a new word today, I even got to learn what it means by checking the edit history. –  TokenMacGuy Dec 13 '10 at 5:34
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I love the buzz words that this site generates. I am tasked frequently with interviewing programmers. It is common to have several levels of interviews:

  • Education / Employment / Experience

This is where we ask your previous employers if they would hire you again. If the job said "[insert degree here] or related experience", we've phoned your university to verify things, or had someone capable of ingesting 'related experience' report on it'. Nothing much to see here.

Additionally, if the job you seek requires additional clearance, we'll investigate the possibility of obtaining that.

Finally, we need to know if you might be a good fit, and move you on to the next step.

  • Technical interview

You will be interviewed by a peer. You will be asked to solve problems, give insights into emerging things, and then asked to pick out mistakes in presumptions that you interviewer just presumed. We want to not only gauge your experience, we want to see what happens when someone in authority is obviously wrong.

  • Background

Sometimes, we do have to conduct a background check.

By this time, a fellow hacker has interviewed and endorsed you. If you are unfortunate enough to talk to a company psychologist to determine your 'suitability' beyond that .. run, and run like hell.

Seriously, run. If the hiring manager must defer to a HR bot to determine how you might fit in, you don't want to work there. Run like you are in prison and just dropped the soap .. if for no other reason than avoiding needless complexity that will likely introduce needless complexity in whatever they ask you to produce.

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I'd agree with you, but wouldn't you say that if the "Professional Fit Interview" were with members of the team the candidate would be fitting in with (as opposed to an unassociated HR rep), it might actually be a productive thing? –  NickC Dec 2 '10 at 21:14
    
@Renesis, I think the leader of a team should be in charge of who joins it, and I think enough information could be gathered in the technical interview to ensure a good fit. Otherwise, you are staffing a pool .. and .. well.. that sucks for the person being hired. "Six of one hundred, implement logging" .. bah. –  Tim Post Dec 2 '10 at 21:19
    
Agreed. I guess I'm just assuming that this may be a company where there are many more players than those who participated in the tech interview. –  NickC Dec 2 '10 at 21:22
    
@Renesis, I'm arguing that there should not be more than a few moving parts in the hiring process. –  Tim Post Dec 2 '10 at 21:24
    
I strongly disagree with you. I don't think the team leader should be in charge of hiring at all. Neither management. The latter should authorize the process and leader manage it, but IMHO, the team should decide who to hire. Being hired by the team allows immediate integration. It also helps finding the candidate that matches. It also prevent from rejection from the team. –  user2567 Dec 3 '10 at 8:46
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A 'Professional Fit interview' is usually a non-technical interview by one or more people from the department you'd be hired into. It could be the senior manager who ultimately pays your salary, but it could also be a couple of engineers who are comfortable talking around various subjects to see if you'd fit in with a team like theirs.

There are some 'positive indicators' that they may be looking for (understands team work, can communicate, familiar with SDLC) that may not have been on your CV/resume nor come up in the technical interviews, but they're looking for them. Try to spot these and answer in a positive fashion. E.g.:

Question: What coding style do you use?

Good Answer: I'll take cues from the style of surrounding lines of code to ensure consistency, or ask colleagues about the team style.

Bad Answer: I like to re-format all code I work on to fit my personal tab/brace/naming style. It's so much better than anything else (yes, I've heard this)

There are some items that would count as 'negative indicators'. It may be illegal/bad form to ask certain questions in an interview (e.g. in UK can't ask about family, marital status, gender or religion), so they may want to talk around the subject until you accidentally let slip something they feel may be a problem for them.

Yes, this is immoral, but it happens in real life. I have seen people rejected because they were gender-unsure even though they were brilliant programmers. I have also seen excellent engineers hired by HR departments but then get ostracised by the team as they just didn't get along with anyone in the team.

Don't volunteer anything you don't need to. For example, no need to mention that you're thinking of starting a family next year - it's none of their business, but some interviewers would immediately think "has outside commitments to distract him from the job". If you can get to the office by ~9am and do a full days' work, no need to make them think that you can't.

My top tips for getting through this:

  1. Dress smart. You need to look 'professional', even if the dress code is metal T-shirt and ripped jeans.
  2. Professional, objective responses. Don't run your mouth off over anything - you may be lulled into doing so (a common technique), but try to stay on-topic.
  3. Do some homework before the interview. Try to have a better understanding of their company, their projects/goals, the market they operate in, etc. As this is interview is further through the process, you should be demonstrably more interested in the job.
  4. Be straight with them. Tell the truth. If you don't know, just say - don't waste anyone's time. If you're caught bending the truth, you'd likely fail your probationary period or (worse) be sued.
  5. Be alert - although the person interviewing you may seem detached from the job you've applied for, they may try to throw in the occasional technical question to make their own assessment of you or to see you how react. I once had a CTO-level guy in a finance company ask me to compare and contrast two embedded O/S's approach to device drivers. Yep, really.
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How you dress is important, and if you're talking to fellow geeks you do not normally want to wear a suit. Dress on the classy side of your future colleagues, but not beyond that. If it's with HR, you may want the suit. –  David Thornley Dec 3 '10 at 2:26
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Have you considered asking them what it is? I have not heard of it. Although, it sounds a little like something we used to do in my company. What we did was have two managers interview a candidate and a developer. The developer afterward would be asked how they felt the candidate would fit in at the company.

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Original answer was perhaps a bit too blunt and was definitely rightly taken in a direction I did not mean for it to go.

To make a clearer point -- it could be alot of things. My team it would be a cocktail hour. Someone else's might be guitar hero. If you are going to be working hard with a small crew, you need to mesh personality-wise and be able to put up with each other. You are probably going to spend more time with this person than with your significant other.


[Original answer for posterity]

15 rounds of cocktails at the local strip club.

[At least for my team]

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How does that work out with female staff? Chippendales? And LGBT staff? You do a survey first to ensure you won't have weird looks in the morning? –  haylem Dec 2 '10 at 20:57
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How about for people who, for whatever reason, don't drink alcohol? You want to eliminate them right off? Or relatively small people who might find fifteen cocktails a lethal dose? –  David Thornley Dec 2 '10 at 21:52
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@David: It's a professional fit interview. If you don't drink, you won't fit in with Wyatt's team, by the sounds of it. –  Carson63000 Dec 2 '10 at 22:12
    
@Carson63000: Presumably, but I thought I'd ask. It would be nice to know before interviewing there. I don't drink anything alcoholic, and would prefer not to go on an interview if I'd have to get drunk to get the job. (BTW, if this is in the US he might be in trouble with the Americans with Disabilities Act - alcoholism is probably considered a disability, and refusing to hire based on unwillingness to consume alcohol might be illegal here.) –  David Thornley Dec 2 '10 at 22:29
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I feel that this is an unprofessional and unhelpful answer. –  JBRWilkinson Dec 3 '10 at 0:07
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